New York Islanders Potential Second Line Preview
By Matt O'Leary
At New York Islanders camp yesterday there was an interesting line combination that could work as the team’s second line.
Camp is finally underway which means we are that much closer to New York Islanders hockey. Yesterday was the first time we saw a lot of the regulars on the ice together. Some of the line combinations were expected while others were a bit of a surprise.
Group one saw Anders Lee – John Tavares – Jordan Eberle as the top line. You can pretty much write this one down in permanent ink as the opening night top-line. The second line was the interesting one in my opinion.
It was made up of Andrew Ladd – Mathew Barzal – Josh Bailey. You have two veterans in Bailey and Ladd on the outside with young pup Barzal in the middle. This unit might actually work well together.
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I, like everyone else, thinks Josh Ho-Sang is the second best right winger on the team behind Jordan Eberle. But, it actually might make more sense to put him on the third line if you’re going with Barzal as the second line center.
Barzal admitted to being overwhelmed in his short stint with the Isles last year. Having veterans on his line could help him learn the game at the NHL level while also having capable linemates.
Even in a down year, Andrew Ladd had 23 goals. He’s usually in the mid to high 20’s in goals and with two playmakers in Barzal and Bailey, he could potentially have a ton of opportunities for goals.
Bailey and Ho-Sang are similar players. I think Ho-Sang has a much higher ceiling than Bailey but they’re both playmakers as opposed to finishers. Ho-Sang is going to be a rookie himself, so putting two rookies together on the same line might be counterproductive.
As talented as both Barzal and Ho-Sang are they’ll make mistakes as they learn the game at the fast-paced NHL level. Plus Bailey is coming off a career year with 56 points, keeping him in the top-six likely keeps his numbers above the median we’ve grown to expect with him in years past.
If Barzal does get the number two center slot right away that means Brock Nelson would center the third line. Having Ho-Sang next to Brock could be a huge benefit. We know Nelson can look lazy at times on the ice but his wrist shot skills are without question.
Ho-Sang, who can be a pass-first type of player, might be the perfect guy to pair with Nelson. He can create space with his speed and feed Nelson who is more of a finisher.
Maybe the Isles can go with something like this:
Lee – Tavares – Eberle
Ladd – Barzal – Bailey
Beauvillier – Nelson – Ho-Sang
Chimera – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
At the end of the year last year, Ho-Sang and Beauvillier showed some chemistry together. Keeping them together might not be the worst thing in the world, plus playing third line minutes can take the pressure off a bit.
Those middle six lines, something that’s been an issue in the past, look strong. I have a feeling offense isn’t going to be the problem this year, it’ll be the defense and goalie play that is talked most about.